Activist groups peddle messages before president's address

Ann Knef Jan. 4, 2005, 9:21am

Filmmaker Michael Moore is an advisor to the Center for Justice & Democracy.

Anti- and pro-tort reform groups were actively peddling messages in anticipation of U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to the Metro-East Wednesday.

But the Center for Justice and Democracy--which held a press conference today at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville where the president is scheduled to speak tomorrow--would not allow a Madison County Record freelance reporter in to cover the event.

Last month, the CJ&D, an organization that "fights to protect the right to trial by jury and an independent judiciary for all Americans," harshly criticized The Record as a provider of "biased accounts of cases."

According to the reporter who was turned away by the CJ&D, only select members of the media were allowed to cover the press conference.

Filmmaker and author Michael Moore is among the organization's advisers.

A full page ad scheduled to run in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday, paid for by Victims and Families United, attacks insurance companies and the president's reform proposals, while suggesting a program in which doctors apologize for mistakes, "Sorry Works," as the solution to the medical liability insurance crisis.

Doug Wojcieszak, a spokesperson for the Metro East-based victims' advocacy group, claims the president's proposals create a "two-tiered justice system" which favors high income earners.

"The value of life should not be equal to the value of a paycheck," the ad charges.

Wojcieszak suggested that the president's proposals "play with the facts for political purposes."

"His facts are just wrong," he said.

"If the president wants to discuss insurance premiums and how they impact our doctors, let's do it. But at a time when pharmaceutical companies are injuring people at record rates, President Bush should be standing up for the victims here at home rather than the drug and insurance companies that continuously fill his campaign coffers."

The Illinois Hospital Association, on the other hand, lauded the president's tort reform proposals.

“We commend the President for coming to our state and addressing this critical health care issue,” said Kenneth C. Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA).

“All across the state, doctors and hospitals are facing skyrocketing medical liability premiums and excessive verdicts that are driving doctors away and jeopardizing services that hospitals provide to their communities.

“This crisis needs to be addressed on the national and state levels, and we call on the Governor and General Assembly, as well as the Congress, to take action now.”

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Illinois Hospital Association
1151 Warrenville Road
Naperville, Illinois 60566

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